From the expert: What is burnout and how can I cope with it?

burnout exhaustion motherhood Oct 11, 2022

From our 2022 resident scholar and energy coach Chernell Bartholemew, founder of Vitality Mvmt

Are you exhausted all the time or feel overwhelmed? Do you feel disconnected from or stuck in your day-to-day life? These can be signs of burnout and as the primary caregiver, you are more likely to experience the effects. Let's talk about what it looks like, feels like and what small steps you can start to take today to feel better.  

What is burnout?

Burnout is a state of physical, emotional, spiritual and physiological exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress.

As a parent, you have stepped into one of the most amazing but hard seasons of life, where we put our needs on the back burner and devote every minute to this new little being and our family. The strength of a mother is inspiring, especially what we manage to do when we are exhausted. But you do not have to exist in this state of exhaustion forever.

I thought I would never feel like myself again when I experienced deep exhaustion and burnout with my first daughter. I did not feel like myself and I thought that motherhood would always feel that way. Until I realized that my needs mattered too.

Your needs, your desires, your wants are important. Ignoring them and stuffing them down increases the stress response in your body. Along with lack of sleep, decreased movement, new pressures and expectations, it can wreak havoc on your digestion, moods, cravings, hormones and ability to experience joy.

Your stress response is on overdrive. It’s the noise and crying, it's your co-workers, the deadlines or the judgement, the hundreds of opinions, the worry, the guilt...

When your body is in this long-term state of stress, your nervous system reacts. It feels like it is being threatened; it stays in this state of emergency, affecting every system in your body, flooding it with cortisol and adrenaline.

How does burnout feel?

You are irritated all the time. Trivial things annoy you now. You have episodes of rage and anger, and you feel frustrated. You are anxious, worried about everything, feeling unsure about decisions or scared. You feel numb, you shut down, nothing really sparks joy anymore, and you feel disconnected and sluggish.

Pair that with sleepless nights and new challenges and navigating a world in a body that does not feel like yours anymore—you are taking in a lot, and you need a safe outlet.

The transformation begins here. Acknowledging that you don’t feel your best, understanding that there is community and support for you, giving yourself grace and knowing you can create your energy. You are powerful, capable, worthy and enough.

Here are three ways to start to cope and decrease exhaustion and burnout.


It is a key way to help reset our stress hormones. The release of endorphins and dopamine help regulate sleep and increase our ability to be resilient. Add in nature, sunlight or some good music and the benefits compound. Any and all movement counts, even a 20-minute walk outside can transform your mood.

An emotional outlet 

A good cry, scream or a deep belly laugh. A good hug, deep breathing or a real conversation with someone you trust. Dancing, singing, painting, a hobby or sport are all beautiful ways to allow your senses and body to know it’s safe to relax.

Scheduling play and rest

Rest is productive. Whether it’s sleep where your body can repair, a day trip or an hour to do something fun, you need these moments to give your body time to feel taken care of, to connect and to do things that fill your cup. Call in the support and you’ll feel amazed at how some “me” time can help you show up with more patience and joy.

Now, this is just the beginning. You are not alone. Many of us experience this, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. If you feel like you are experiencing the effects of exhaustion and burnout and are not sure what to do next, please reach out. I would love to offer the Mom Halo community a chance to book a call with me to see how I can help. Just click here and we’ll find a time to chat.


Chernell is an energy coach. She is a mom of three, a wife, an entrepreneur and an author.  She uses her expertise as a personal trainer, a health coach and an award-winning registered massage therapist to help overwhelmed, exhausted and burnt-out moms go from feeling stuck in health and in motherhood to feeling vibrant energy and empowered in their health so they can build their own confident, joyful life and still eat the damn cake!  

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